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Keywords:

  • pharmacology;
  • psychiatric disorder;
  • psychodermatology;
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI);
  • treatment

Abstract

This paper provides an updated review of the use of antidepressant drugs in dermatology. Some of the psychiatric disorders that are usually comorbid with dermatological disorders and respond to antidepressants include major depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, social phobia and post-traumatic stress disorder usually secondary to trauma and abuse during early life. Cutaneous symptoms may be the feature of a primary psychiatric disorder, e.g. cutaneous body image problems, dermatitis artefacta, neurotic excoriations and trichotillomania, or psychiatric syndromes may be comorbid with a primary dermatological disorder such as the association of major depressive disorder or social phobia with psoriasis and obsessive compulsive disorder with acne excoriee. Some of the salient pharmacological properties of the tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants are reviewed. The review indicates that the SSRI antidepressants are potentially beneficial in the management of all the major psychiatric syndromes that are encountered in dermatological disorders. The generally more favourable side-effect profile of the SSRIs, such as lower cardiotoxicity in contrast to the TCAs, has made them the first-line agents for the treatment of depression. Furthermore, some of the pharmacological properties of the antidepressant agents that are not related to their antidepressant activity, such as the histamine H1 blocking effect of TCAs, such as doxepin, amitriptyline and trimipramine, are of benefit in dermatological conditions such as urticaria and pruritus. This paper reviews the general guidelines for use of antidepressants and salient drug–drug interactions resulting mainly from the inhibition of the cytochrome P450 (CYP) 2D6 and 3A3/4 isoenzymes by some of the SSRI antidepressants. Before prescribing an antidepressant agent, the specific guidelines, side-effect profile, drug–drug interactions and most current indications should always be obtained.